Hurricane Maria Recovery Efforts in Puerto Rico & USVI

Beginning Phase 3 Long Term Recovery

huggingAs The Salvation Army begins Long Term Recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, we have met with several corporate entities, partner agencies and FEMA.  We continue to create our organizational structure around the principles of collaboration and relationship building with allies throughout the region.

As noted in previous updates, there are still parts of Puerto Rico without power and water, and the infrastructure continues to be a major problem.  With many traffic lights still in disrepair, road signage gone, and potholes large enough to swallow small vehicles, traffic is impeded with hazards that make travel dangerous.  Accidents are common place, and getting around can be a great challenge.  Downed power lines, debris, and abandoned buildings add to the general unsightliness, as there is an overwhelming amount of repair needed.  All of this creates real need for emotional and spiritual care, a focused priority for The Salvation Army.  We have set aside funds to make referrals to mental health professionals, as needed.

Long Term Recovery – Houses to Homes (H2H)

As always, to invest in the affected communities local economy, the Long Term Recovery staff and Territorial Disaster Services are in discussions with the local stores of  Berrios and Sears/K-Mart to will provide appliances, furniture and household goods throughout the islands.  In a special partnership, Sears/K-Mart has been working with The Salvation Army to provide solar generators for those medical needs cases where ongoing power is a requirement.

eds in communityFor the past few months, The Salvation Army has been working with FEMA to aid those moving from temporary shelters to transitional or permanent housing.  The Salvation Army has delivered appliances, offered to pay rental deposits, and has provided home goods to make the transition easier.  FEMA has also referred a number of dire cases in vulnerable areas where The Salvation Army was able to provide clothes, shoes, cutlery, water filters and household goods.

In the US Virgin Islands, The Salvation Army continues to furnish homes with appliances, furniture, and home goods. Soon, the organization will be reviewing a number of projects to aid both young and college aged students on the islands.

There are a number of innovative ideas that have been developed to meet the needs throughout the PR/VI Division.

  • Disaster Service Centers/Units (DSCU) were created to serve heavily impacted communities, most currently underserved. In both PR and the VI, there are communities which will require ongoing work beyond the normal LTR efforts, and our DSCU’s will offer additional services to help those in the most critical needs. These DSCU’s will operate within TSA’s LTR, and will be strategically placed in Corps areas to create visibility and viability for The Salvation Army.
  • Both Irma and Maria left many of the schools in St. Thomas incapable of reopening without major repairs. The Salvation Army will continue to provide afterschool care for the remaining open schools in the US Virgin Islands, providing financial relief to families facing the cost of child care services. With the generous support of AT&T, The Salvation Army will benefit the mental health for children impacted by the disaster, provide educational activities, and offer a safe place for constructive social growth.  A generous grant from AT&T will help get this effort underway.
  • Following an assessment of college students throughout the Virgin Islands, a University Scholarship Program will serve local college students who have not been able to return to the local university, due to financial hardships caused by the hurricane season in 2017. We have had a significant “seed grant” to begin the program, but additional funding would ensure sustainability and growth potential.

A recent Harvard study put the death toll in Puerto Rico at close to 5,000 people, far more than initially reported.  To meet the growing needs of those with access and functional needs, TSA will help vulnerable individuals who may be elderly or who have a disability or serious medical need. The Salvation Army has provided close to 50 generators to families who are medically dependent upon power.

Statistical Reporting

Statistics for this period are less robust, as we are just beginning to receive cases.  Only those homes that are viable will be eligible for long term recovery from The Salvation Army.  Food and water distribution has slowed as many communities have access to these goods, and we want to support the local economy.  Here are the current highlights:

Item                                                           Stats Total

Meals Served/Food Boxes                                12,447,035

Cases of water                                                    153,274 (3,678,576 bottles)

Clean water from water filtration kits          2,000,000 (approximate)

Hygiene kits and products                               53,299 kits

Senior Care kits                                                  1,573 kits

Baby Supplies                                                     20,196 items

Household goods                                                34,606 items

Children’s toys, bikes & educational items   1,595 items

Clean up kits and tarps                                     960 kits

Move in kits                                                         2,550 kits

Clothing – items distributed                             295,428

 Cumulative stats through July 15th, 2018

For more information on supporting The Salvation Army’s Hurricane Maria recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the USVI, visit:




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